A Different View Of London
If you’re looking for a new experience in London then how about combining a ride on the Thames Cable Car (also known as Emirates Air Line after its main sponsor) with a hike up over the top of the O2?
Britain’s first urban cable car links the Royal Docks (where the Excel Exhibition centre is located) with the O2 Arena at Greenwich. The cable car takes 5 minutes and has 34 cabins that rise 90 metres over the Thames. Currently the cable car closes at 9pm but there are plans to extend the opening times to accommodate concert goers to the O2 who are staying in the Docklands area.
A short walk from the cable car and you find yourself at “Base Camp” for the Up and Over the O2 experience which I was recently invited to visit. After a short intro video, comes the locker room, where we’re provided with jumpsuits, shoes and a safety harness and secure our personal belongings in lockers which are transported to the descent base camp.
Once outside we attach our individual safety lines to the guide rail and begin our ascent on the skywalk. The suspended walkway slopes at 30 degrees and I would say most people with an average fitness could take such a gradient without too much trouble, it’s not scary. The bouncy surface takes a little getting used to but at the same time is quite fun and sometimes the ridged surface is difficult to grip.
The first section is the steepest but the walkway flattens out near the top. Once you reach the summit and the circular viewing platform, the views are amazing. Spanning 360 degrees; landmarks include the Olympic Park, the Thames Barrier, The Shard and Canary Wharf.
The descent is more challenging with a longer steep section to ground level although at no time does it feel unsafe. Our guide was reassuring and professional; we reach the ground after about an hour on the structure, with everyone in the group wishing we could do it again.
A great experience and I believe ‘Up At The O2’ will only serve to continue the astonishing success of the O2 as one of the world’s best music, sport and entertainment venues. Not bad considering the controversial and widely deemed disastrous beginnings as the Millennium Dome!
‘Up At The O2’ costs £22 for adults and children. You need to be at least 10 years old and 1.2 metres tall. Group costs are available on request. Overall though it may sound a basic thing to do but the views and experience will surprise you. I honestly think the O2 have done something very clever here and offered an different take on your basic sightseeing. So good luck with you adventure up and over the O2!